It was the day every Liverpool fan had been waiting for since Jurgen Klopp and his beaming smile arrived at Anfield. The outcome? A 0-0 result with Tottenham Hotspur but with plenty of positives to build on in what was Klopp’s first game in charge. Every Liverpool player was also eager to impress their new boss, but who was immense and who was anonymous? And how did Klopp perform?
Jurgen Klopp 7/10
I’m tempted to give him 10/10 for his pre and post match interviews alone but I’ll resist. The German only arrived in England last Friday and considering that he only had 3 or 4 training sessions with an already depleted squad he did very well to implement a game plan. There were already signs of Klopp’s style of play and his famous ‘gegenpressing’, there also seemed to already be more intensity in the attack and in defence. There are stats to back this up too. Liverpool covered more distance than ever before this season ( 116km ) and became the first team to outrun Spurs.
“0-0 is not my dream result but it is OK.” Klopp said after the game. “I am happy because I saw many good things, in the first 20 minutes we were pressing and were very aggressive.
A very good start in what was a difficult match.
Simon Mignolet 8/10
Despite his poor distribution Mignolet was exceptional against Spurs and was largely responsible for Liverpool’s clean sheet, their first since August. The Belgian goalkeeper has always been an excellent shot stopper and he proved as much again on Saturday, saving brilliantly to deny shots from Harry Kane and Clinton N’jie.
Nathaniel Clyne 6/10
As usual, Clyne was very solid defensively. He made a couple of mistakes but used his pace well to recover. Perhaps he could have supported James Milner better when Liverpool were attacking down the right.
Martin Skrtel 5/10
Skrtel was guilty of making a couple of dodgy errors that led to goal scoring opportunities only to either be rescued by his goalkeeper Mignolet or defensive partner Mamadou Sakho. However, not all of those mistakes were entirely his fault. He was sold short by a weak pass from Adam Lallana for N’jie’s chance and then a through ball was deflected out of his path by Clyne. The Slovakian needs to be a better leader on the pitch and be more of a leader. This was shown when he lost out of a 50/50 with N’jie which resulted in a shot at goal. However, and to his credit, Skrtel recovered and made a couple of excellent blocks to deny chances, he should get credit for the clean sheet as well.
Mamadou Sakho 9/10 – MOTM
Immense. Sakho was dominant both in the air and on the ground and always won his battles. He was also very impressive in possession completing the 2nd most passes out of the Liverpool team and with the highest accuracy. These weren’t just safe, sideways passes either. Many were incisive and were played into the attackers feet, quickly turning defence into attack. The Frenchman is becoming a fan favourite and his name could be heard being sung by the travelling reds. Sakho’s on pitch embrace with Klopp also signified how impressed the German was with his performance.
Alberto Moreno 6/10
After recent impressive performances Moreno threatened to be a threat against Spurs but not much materialised from his spells in possession. He was often fortunate to be awarded with free kicks when caught on the ball in his own half and the fact that he won so many free kicks covered up how much he actually gave the ball away. Like Clyne, however, Moreno looks comfortable in this back four which will now expect to get a solid run in the team and, hopefully for Klopp, become a strong defensive unit.
An extremely reliable performer, Lucas carried out his task against Spurs with pride and distinction. By guarding the back four and breaking up attacks Lucas performed the role so often played by Sven Bender or Sebastian Kehl in Jurgen Klopp’s title winning Dortmund teams, and you could tell by the embrace the two men shared after the game that Klopp was delighted with the Brazilian’s performance in what is a crucial area of the pitch.
Emre Can 7/10
If Lucas was Sven Bender or Sebastian Kehl then Emre Can was Nuri Sahin or Ilkay Gundogan. Can also sat in front of the back four but had more freedom to drive forward than his partner Lucas, and the German was very effective in his role. Since his arrival at Anfield at the start of last season, Can has shown that he has the skill and power to carry the ball though midfield and burst into attack and he demonstrated that to great effect on Saturday. Working under a German manager will undoubtedly help his development and with Jordan Henderson’s injury Can should hope to get a consistent run of games playing in his preferred position.
James Milner 6/10
Playing in a different position than when under Rodgers, slightly out on the right but with the freedom to tuck in and create a midfield three, Milner performed his role, as you would expect, professionally. He ran tirelessly for his team and was a fundamental part of Liverpool’s high defensive press but didn’t quite have the same levels of offensive output, he created very little and didn’t have the pace to beat his opponent Danny Rose.
Adam Lallana 7/10
Adam Lallana has had games for Liverpool where he has created more chances. He has had games where he has scored and got assists but until Saturday he has never looked so fundamental to his side. This was, arguably, his most impressive performance in a Liverpool shirt and he looked as if he had bought into Klopp’s ‘gegenpressing’ more than any other player as he looked comfortable leading the offensive press. Lallana backed up this work rate with some nice touches and movements around the box as he looked to link up with Philippe Coutinho. He had one bad moment when a loose ball to Skrtel presented Spurs with a chance, but he recovered well from his mistake which fortunately didn’t prove costly.
Philippe Coutinho 5/10
One of his quieter games in a red shirt, Coutinho added very little apart from his contribution to the gegenpress. One of Klopp’s biggest challenges at Liverpool will be turning Coutinho into a consistent player. The Brazilian is spectacular at his best but anonymous at his worst and Saturday was one of those days and was substituted shortly before the end.
Divock Origi 5/10
Asked to lead the line on his own after Daniel Sturridge picked up a knock in training. Origi is effectively Liverpool’s 4th choice striker and, on his Premier League debut, did a decent, but not spectacular, job. The Belgian came closest to scoring when he headed against the bar from a corner but perhaps he should have done better. He was also often left isolated for large periods of the match and will hope to have an easier game on his 2nd Premier League appearance.